Yesterday the female number one player in the World, Lorena Ochoa, grew another inch at least in my eyes. Playing in her home country she announced that she is to retire from golf following next week’s event. Retirement itself I guess is not all that impressive but the way she does it is. Lorena simply says that she has done what she wanted to do, reached the goals that she had, so in very simple terms – that’s it! What else is there to do? She now has a number of other goals that she wants to reach but they do not involve playing competitive golf around the globe. She wants to be home, with her family. She wants to start a family of her own and she wants to work on her foundation. 10 years on the LPGA was what she had always planned and to Lorena Ochoa taking the next step does not seem to be a dramatic move at all.
Do check out the transcript of the LPGA press conference with Lorena. It is excellent!
I have to admit that updating the blog has not been top of the priority list this week. Not since Thursday anyway. The McEvoy Trophy was played in great style with some fantastic golf being played. Chris Lloyd, the pre-tournament favourite led the way and his finish of 11 under was only caught by Rhys Pugh’s outstanding birdie stride on the last few holes. Brian Roake’s England U18 News blog will have all the details also of the play off where Chris unfortunately fell short.
It was on Thursday when northern Europe suddenly came to a complete standstill. Well, at least the air traffic and because of the life we live that means roughly the same thing. I would know as my plans involved travelling to Stockholm for the weekend. Several boat, train and car rides later I am there but it is evident how vulnerable we are. And this time it was not anything like a terrorist act. It was mother nature herself and perhaps we ought to wonder what she is trying to say?
I heard stories from fellow passengers about standing next to Ministers of Governemnts trying to get home from Brussels with just about the same problems as everybody else. Before a gigantic cloud of ash from Iceland we are all equal!
Two of our England players, Matt Haines and Tommy Fleetwood were due to fly out to India this weekend for the Bonallack Trophy. I wonder if train is an option…
Phil Mickelson got to put on his third Green Jacket and what a popular winner he was. With his wife Amy at his side for the first time in a long while as she is undergoing cancer treatment he was the perfect American Dream winner. And he certainly deserved it. The golf that was played at Augusta this year was simply outstanding. It usually takes a Ryder Cup to get to see that number of holed iron shots off the fairways but this tournament was special.
For the PGA Tour it is now back to the usual business at Harbour Town, Hilton Head, this week. In England and boys’ golf it is time for the first Major of the year. Traditionally the season is ready to kick-start with the McEvoy Trophy, always at Copt Heath and always this week. Traditional is also that the weather can be quite iffy, to say the least. This year however the forecast is pointing towards 80 degrees on both Wednesday and Thursday. That is almost too good! (Of course it is! That was for Birmingham International Airport but unfortunately the one in Alabama. If we can get to 60 though I think we will all be really happy…)
Follow the McEvoy Trophy here.
Halfway into the tournament and the man is definitely back. At 6 under he rests steadily two shots off the pace, I bet eager to go into the weekend. All those that thought playing golf would be anywhere near an issue for the World number 1 after what he has been through clearly had no clue about what this man is made of. Ironically Sir Nick Faldo was one of those that predicted that competing at this level after having been away for such a long time would be difficult. That logic did not seem to apply to Mr Woods though.
It makes you wonder what kind of logic does apply to this guy. I saw the former Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher sit in the morning sofa on BBC the other day and say that “had this guy been any other member of Augusta GC (Champions automatically become members) he probably would have been thrown out of the club”. Can anybody figure out why he wasn’t? Had Augusta, the PGA Tour or any golfing related organisation in the World had a Fabio Capello at the helm Woods would have been faced with a different situation. Now they don’t and while John Terry lost his England Captain’s shirt Woods is back at Augusta where HE thinks everything is back to normal.
Woods returns to golf
It is Masters week again. Traditionally the first full week of April and the eyes of the golfing world once again turn to Augusta, Georgia. Only this year it is not just the eyes of the golfing world. Whoever is interested in juicy scandals and celebrities in the media of course have a reason to watch. And it is not to see if the magnolia will blossom. Apparently the very cold winter has made that questionable. The question of course is if Woods will blossom.
Leaving aside everything he has done I wonder if it is time to start to give the guy some credit. Walking in to that press conference on Monday I have to say I think was a pretty brave thing to do. Yes it was nicely directed by all his staff and one could argue that the media need Woods a lot more than he needs them, and therefore the questions will always be rather gentle. At least from the media that will ever have access to the players at Augusta. I am not saying that his answers were not carefully thought out and yes, he has been trained from an early age at handling these things. Whether rehab has done him any good is impossible to say. What is clear though is that he sat there and had his shortcomings displayed to the world. Not everybody would be prepared to do that. And of course he had to. His behaviour and character from now on will determine how the world will remember him. At the moment he is a rather sad story of a man who used to be pretty good at golf.
1st of April and newspapers as well as other media have done their best in trying to come up with original jokes. I wonder if not the LPGA Tour has won that battle though. The only problem is that it does not seem to be a joke and it actually happened yesterday. Kraft Nabisco Championship is played this week. The first women’s major of the year, traditionally at the Dina Shore course at the Mission Hills Country Club in California will of course gather the top players of the world. Only Helen Alfredson, a previous winner of the same tournament, and Mimmi Hjorth, currently top 25 in the world, will not start.
Different from the men’s majors the women’s equivalent have pro-ams. The LPGA have very strict rules with regards to participation in those. If you are called upon you play. Otherwise you are not playing in the main event either. You are entitled to say no once every year. This week both Helen and Mimmi were on the reserve list for the pro-am and I guess did not expect to play. Perhaps that was why the LPGA did not get through to any of them when they needed a reserve. Because of this Helen and Mimmi can now turn back home instead of spending Easter competing in a Major Championship. And the ironic thing is that had they only picked up the call they could have kindly said no. Just like Nathalie Gulbis, third on the reserve list did. It’s a funny game. But I am not sure Helen and Mimmi would agree with that…